Indian jewelry ad sparks social media storm for portrayal of woman's remarriage

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A bold new ad campaign by Tanishq jewelry in India has caused a huge stir on social media for its unconventional portrayal of women and marriage. 

In the ad, a beautiful woman puts on a necklace to prepare for her wedding, and is approached by a young girl. Viewers see later see that she's the daughter of the bride, indicating that she's a child from the woman's previous marriage. Given that the girl looks around seven to 10 years old, it also indicates that the woman is at least a few years older than the ideal bride in her early twenties. 

During the the ceremony, her daughter asks if she can join the the 
pheras, a ceremony in which the couple walks around a fire seven times as they repeat their vows. Even though the bride puts a finger to her lips and asks her daughter to be quiet, the groom scoops her up in his arms and lets her join the ceremony. 

The ad is being praised as a sign of India's progressive new attitudes, for a few reasons. It's clearly a second marriage for the woman, and divorced or widowed men and women are traditionally marginalized in mainstream Indian culture. The actress portraying the bride is also dusky-skinned, which is unusual given Indian beauty standards that favour light-skinned women. 

As Vancouver Observer reporter Rajeshwari Rajimwale wrote last year, being fair-skinned is associated with high-class society in India. To choose a dark-skinned actress is a subversive way of saying dark-skinned women can be just as desirable to men.  

"Indian television is dominated by fairness cream advertisements for women as well as men. The sales of such products are indirectly related to the country's social caste system: darker skinned people are historically assumed to be from the lower strata of society."

The ad has been garnering rave reviews from social media users in India, where divorce rates have been on the rise.


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